Cultures world-wide have stories of worlds spoken into existence. By words. They have power, these little bits of ink and letters. Spoken, written, conjured, words create worlds, communicate our hearts and spread knowledge. I write. I play with words. They are my art. My painting. Let's explore the world of words together, shall we? Let's play.
Turns out, I’m scary good at staying hidden. I’m not easy to find, even if you know some stuff about me and are a pro at locating people online.
Apparently, random last name changes and frequent moves, while simultaneously failing to properly register to vote or drive, allows for a lot of privacy. Who knew? I should start my own Writer Protection Program.
Now the story as to why I do all this is more convoluted and has absolutely nothing to do with trying to keep off the radar. That was just a happy side-effect.
When I posted last week about using my kids’ names and pics in blogging, I already felt pretty confident in my verdict. I would use them. Maybe not constantly, as they are not the primary focus of my blogs, but yeah, I’d use them when the post called for it. What’s the harm?
Turns out, people who know more about this stuff than me know what harm there is.
Now maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe they are. Maybe the whole world is mad. Whatever. I’m a mom first, and my kids’ safety takes priority. Yes, they are ridiculously cute. Yes, I want to show them off. No, I do not want weirdoes to fixate on them. I may be hard to find, but still.
Right now, I’m not totally famous. (I know, it’s a shock to me too each morning when I wake up from my Twilight meets Harry Potter dreams, but it’s true. I’m not.) But let’s just add a ‘yet’ there for fun, shall we? Because, who knows? I mean, I am a writer. And if you’re reading this, then you hopefully don’t think I suck. I’ve got books that are almost ready for the light of day.
See? Mommy first!
And, I’m a big picture kind of girl. Always have been. Now, J.K.Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, they hit the spotlight immediately, it was not a building up process. They did not blog their way to fans and fame. So their lives (and children) weren’t spread all over the internet when they hit stardom.
Mine would be. If I posted as planned. Then what? My few hundred or few thousand blog hits and followers could skyrocket. And my little girls would get more attention. And the creeps would come crawling out of their hidey holes.
No. That’s not going to work for me. Not at all.
So here’s the deal.
·You can be found by a non-privatized URL. (They can see your name, address, email and phone number just with one click, for free. Seriously, I saw mine. But the number and address and name were all wrong, ‘cuz I’m sneaky like that!) So, pay the nine bucks or whatever and privatize.
·Keep your Facebook stuff private for just close friends and family. Or delete the kids’ names and pics. Think about it, with a name, a picture and a way to find your address, predators can become “friends” with your kids in no time. They can even look at your Facebook family tree and say “Hi , I’m a friend of your Aunt . How are you? Want some candy and a puppy?”
·Don’t use your real birth date, age and current location online. (Apparently, you can be found easily this way. Also, if they know your age and birth month, they can get the year and search you out. Unless you’re sneaky like me. But very few are. I’m thinking of offering a free consultation to the FBI.) This is my favorite, because I just became a 23 year old woman living in the South of France. Cool eh? Easiest move of my life.
This is not where I live
·Be careful not to mention specific locations of where you going on a daily basis. If I live in New York, and don’t want you to know it, but I’m always references the New York Public Library, well, that might be a giveaway, don’t you think?
·Watch your online activity. Google yourself once a week and scrub any info that points a big red finger to where you live. (Like commenting on too many local blogs.)
·Keep an unlisted phone number and put your utilities in a different name if possible. (I know, we’re starting to sound nuts here, but this is just for extreme measures if you’re like, Stephen King or something. Though, he’s so scary I doubt he gets many stalkers.)
And finally*drum roll please* don’t use your kids real names and pics in your blogs.
Life Is A Play
There, I said it. Happy? My kids are all picking “stage names” to be used by Dmytry and I when we blog about them. I will no longer use their pictures and am in the process of changing my Facebook setting and removing things. (It’s also good to note that if you have an open FB page, you can privatize an album and only make it available to certain friends, which is what I’m doing with our kids’ pictures.)
Is this too extreme? Maybe. I had to look at my life, my priorities and where I see my career headed. Also, I’m raising kids with a man who will also be famous someday. Two famous writers in one house? That’s a lot of attention. We need to keep our kids safe. So, we will take most of these measures.
Thank you to all who have shed light on this subject and given me advice. It was well-received and appreciated.
Tell me what you think. Am I going over board? What has been your experience with this?